Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beyond Imagining: Immeasurably More {7}


But God wasn't done tying up loose ends. In this job, He also gave all the details and past work experiences of the last few years purpose . Robb needed every one of those seemingly random skills to qualify for this job. (The realty and daycare licenses are also still valuable income sources to be utilized as we need.) The LRC position, database  and inventory management for The PRIME Group, all these prepared him for the position of Events Services Resource Coordinator. In his new job, he works with people and details, and coordinates the use of space in a place that feels like going home.

Crown is home in so many ways. My history is long there.

This is the place where I spun on a chair in the prayer room turned nursery on Sundays, ran the halls as a child with my friends after church, and prayed by the pond for after church outings. This is the place that was church to me first, where I sang at the front of that chapel for Sunday School programs, and played fuse-ball near what is now Simpson auditorium.

When I went there for college it felt like going to church because the professors were parents of my friends, and one the husband of my kindergarten teacher. In this place I remember chapels and Deeper Life, choir practice and Candlelight Carols. Though I disliked the name change from SPBC to Crown as a teen, if it weren't for that change I never would have met my husband here,  or then stood in that very stained-glass and sun-spot-dappled chapel and pledged my life and love.

For Robb, it is the place he found grace and assurance of the security of his salvation. He was an RA and on Senate. He drank coffee in Malaysia on a Senate trip with my childhood friend's parents, one a history prof. We traveled to Europe on choir tour in the formative months of our courtship. Then the first 9 months of our marriage were spent in Faith Village, campus married housing, as we finished classes.

We didn't just graduate from this place. It was home.
Home isn't just a place. It means family. The people at Crown are an extension of our church family, and some Robb even worked with when he managed volunteers for LRC. In the years since leaving that position, he had missed many aspects of the church job.  The sense of purpose gained from completing management tasks is easily replaced. Community born from compassionate church management is not.

Robb would be jumping in to a community he already knew well and was known.

On the day he was hired and the name badge put on the wall, one of our friends walked by and noticing the sign, is said to have declared,

"Robb Stiffler? THE Robb Stiffler? You mean I get to work with Robb? He was my RA in college!"
The Sunday following I was greeted with a hug from the woman who would share office space with Robb. Her excitement was affirming to both of us that this job and Robb were a perfect match.

I didn't really need reassurance at this point that God had indeed been at work in our lives over the last year. But God likes to go over the top just for effect, I am convinced. On the day Robb was hired, our church and Crown's denomination's website posted Romans 15:13 on their Facebook status. That verse stood as bookends at the beginning and end of our year of hoping.

The Holy Spirit was at work! 
See what I did?  
Hope in ME! 
I've got this!
I've got YOU! 

What seemed like a crooked path to us, is made straight.

Our faith and hope is fulfilled. 

The past is redeemed.

Our Hope is in Christ alone.

And Robb comes home every day and says,

"I love my job!"

The road was long and hard, but we made it! Our waiting makes the victory sweeter, and seeing how God put all the pieces together fills us with wonder at His goodness. 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us, 
to him be glory. 
Ephesians 3:20-21

Beyond Imaginging: The Perfect Gift {Pt 6}

This is the story of our year where I chronicle our journey through unemployment, a few of our detours along the way,  and the faithfulness of a good God that is beyond imagining. 

If you are just now finding this series, please jump back and read:
Beyond Imagining: Remember the Deer {Pt 3} 
Beyond Imagining: Dangerous Hope {Pt 4}
Beyond Imagining: Blessed Assurance {Pt 5}


We were still waiting, yet with peace that this was the path for us. His gift. His answer to a year of waiting for hope to be fulfilled.

After the holidays, Robb got called for his first interview.

It went well. He liked the team. They appeared to like him. Everything was looking good.

A week later, he had his second interview. As he was waiting to be called in to the conference room, he was stunned to see a picture similar to his running path photo hanging in the lobby. He had missed it before.

A little thing? Maybe. But it encouraged us as we walked this path with God.

Again, Robb came home pleased and excited with how well the interview went.

The fog that had obscured our path for so long was clearing.

On Monday, January 16, we got an unexpected phone-call. It wasn't the good news we were waiting for, but rather, the closure to a previous chapter in our business history.  The resulting relief was immense. It was an unexpected blessing. God seemed to be tying up loose ends from the past before giving us a future.

On January 17, he had his third interview, this time with the President of Crown. We had expected to get a final answer that day, and were pretty down to have to wait yet some more.

We over-analyzed every word spoken at each interview trying to guess what the result would be. We feared our reaction if the end was not favorable. We thought we knew what God was up to, but it's not a done deal til the papers are signed, the name plaque made.

The Lord brought this verse to mind as we waited and were tempted to wonder if all this excitement was for naught,   

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows." 

I felt him saying,

I am not tricky.
Nor am I shifty and shadowy like. 
I do not say one thing and do another.
My gifts are good.
Do not despair.
Be not impatient.

A friend wrote on my FB wall that day,
"in my experience, the very best things in life sometimes take the longest to be fulfilled. :)"
That evening I went to the Psalms again. I know my God is a God who delights in details. An interesting thought came to me.
What if God waited three more days, until the 20th, to give us this job?
The 20th for the 20th Psalm. My Psalm of victory given exactly one month prior.
Would he do that? Just for effect?
We knew the timetable to be such that we would possibly hear something on Thursday the 19th.
The evening of the 19th came and Robb was discouraged.
We had heard nothing.
I wasn't really surprised.

I pulled out my Bible and read Psalm 20 to him. Then I boldly declared,

"You will hear an answer tomorrow. And the answer will be yes. Because tomorrow is the 20th."
Sometimes God doesn't let us see what is coming, but other times he knows we need encouragement, and clues us in that He is at work. If we're paying attention, we might even get bold enough to speak it before it happens.

(It's easy to write this all now, you may say, after the fact, but aren't you exaggerating your knowledge of events to come?  If you are doubtful, I can understand that. I might say the same thing if on the observing side. Check my Facebook timeline. If I exaggerate anything, it is my confidence at the time. Though I was vague, the verses were posted there on the days I specify here. I haven't been one to regularly "hear" things from God. I'm beginning to think it's because I wasn't really listening.)

I was convinced when I said it, and excited too,
"You will hear an answer tomorrow. And the answer will be yes. Because tomorrow is the 20th."
The next day came, and for effect and for Love, God did just that.

Robb was offered the job.

We found out later, the name plaque had been secretly printed by excited co-workers days earlier.


I didn't plan this, but isn't it fun that today is also the 20th?  God is fun. :)

Next week: Beyond Imagining: Immeasurably More {7}

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pinterest: Tried and Approved {5}

 Happy Friday to ya! Whatcha found on Pinterest this week? I'd love to hear! These are my finds...

1.} Clipboards as frames

I've been trying to get my kitchen wall just right for a while, and now I finally really like it! I edited a few face shots using Photoshop's cutout filter, printed, clipped and hung the clipboards with ribbon.The painting I finished over Christmas break.

 2.} Sweet Potato Chili

A surprising hit! Robb claimed all the leftovers, so I will be making this again! Next time, though, I will try it with one less can Rotel and add one can plain tomatoes, and maybe a little less pepper.

3.}Scrabble Tile Printables

 I'm leaving in a few hours! Yippee!

4.} Coasters

I made these at the community project night, and love them! Fun and easy and inexpensive! The tissue paper or napkin goes on all crinkly with modge podge, giving the surface a lovely texture when it dries.

That's it for this week! I'm off to pack! Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

{So}Sartina Boutique

Last night I hosted the first ever {So}Sartina Boutique in my home. Fifteen ladies came to show their support and browse my creations! One friend brought her daughters and I loved hearing them squeal at all the cuteness!

My sister Sara came bearing scones and baby boy, whose big assignment of the night was choosing the winning slip for the drawing. We held the bowl of paper slips up to his six month chubs, he managed to grab one, and then promptly goobered all over the paper. Thankfully we could still read the smeared printing and one friend won some store credit!

We munched on chocolate drizzled toffee scones and pear brie sage tart while I told the {So}Sartina story. I'm not sure if I got the story right, so it's good I documented it as it unfolded

This was the bag that started it all.

But I couldn't leave it alone, so I designed the first ever signature rose.

Here's where I started thinking about names for my Etsy shop.
Read the name ideas in the comments. They are fun.

And this is the one where I revealed the chosen name.

I've learned a ton since then, made lots of things I love, and I continue to enjoy sharing them with you! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beyond Imagining: Blessed Assurance {Pt 5}

This is the story of our year where I chronicle our journey through unemployment, a few of our detours along the way,  and the faithfulness of a good God that is beyond imagining. 

If you are just now finding this series, please jump back and read:
the door of my sister's house in Mexico

We were relieved that there was an increased chance Robb would get the job, but we realized that it was still just about a 25% probability. Few people bet their life on those kinds of numbers, and we aren't some of those few. The path continued, but we didn't know exactly where we were going.

The past year, I had often thought of Job, who lost everything, who moaned and groaned in sackcloth and ashes. It seems he lost joy, even cursed the day he was born, but he would not deny or curse the name of God.  He was considered righteous and proved God's boast in him by just one thing. Faithful perseverance.

We kept walking the path, some days joyful and hopeful, and some just one foot in front of the other. I began to realize even that minimal effort of faith was enough to prove God's boast in me, in us. He sees my deeds, knows my weakness, and yet he is still an opener of doors. And what he opens, no one can shut.
Ten more days after the most recent Human Resources contact, I was encouraged again by the Word when my friend texted me saying, "I meant to share this{verse} with you before, but it came back {to me} today, so I know it's important."
So I pray that God who give you hope will keep you happy and FULL of peace as you believe him. May you overflow with HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 {Caps hers}
The significance of that particular verse hit me immediately.
I answered her, quickly tapping out the letters on my phone,
"That was the verse on my Christmas card last year! I sure hope that means we've come full circle with that verse as bookends to a year that required lots of hope!"
I could hardly believe it when my mom sent me the same verse in an email the following week!

Few times in my life have I felt strongly that God was speaking something specific or possibly prophetic to my heart, and this is one of them.  The problem of hope was confronting us, yet in my darkest hour, when hope seemed foolish, He twice sent me the verse I had chosen for the year.

He saw my weakness and floundering faith, and his voice spoke to my heart.

Probabilities mean nothing when the Holy Spirit is at work! 
See what I am doing?  
This is your open door!
Hope in ME! 

I've got this!

Thanks for joining me as I tell our story! To those who have given encouraging feedback, thank you! Your words spur me on (Hebrews 10:24). Next week: Beyond Imagining: The Perfect Gift {Pt 6}

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pinterest: Tried and Approved {4}

Whatcha been finding on Pinterest these days, my growing number of pinning followers? I honestly (cross my heart, but skip the needle in the eye bit) haven't been on much this week. As in, I don't know if I've even been on Pinterest at all. I know, what with the growing addiction spreading as another web based time stealing plague, you may find this little fact difficult to believe, but it is true. I may just have to spend some quality time pinning tonight, just so Pinterest doesn't think I'm cheating with Facebook.Or something.

These next few ideas were found and tested a while back.

Sooo cute, no? I browsed Goodwill one Tuesday for their $1.49 tag sale, and not finding any men's shirts that would transform into lovely ladies aprons, I settled on a couple women's button downs. They are perfect for little girls size 3-8. Another version I made had a ruffle at the bottom.


What's cuter than a cutie pie in a pink striped apron? A cutie pie in a pink striped apron with flour on her nose!

These are seriously addicting. Probably not cheaper than store-bought because of the quantity of cheese needed, but this recipe wins on taste! Make sure you bake them until they begin to brown or they won't be crisp.

3.} Drip Catcher

No one likes a drip...

 4.} Easter Printable

Easter is only 4 weeks away! I still need to set up my Easter tree, but this lovely word art is printed and framed. I love me a free printable!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

{So}Sartina: Around Town

This week was an exciting one for my little home-sewn business, but I must admit to a few nerves as well! Sharing one's heart as I have been for the past few Mondays can feel vulnerable and humbling, and sharing one's art is no different.

Will they like it? Will it sell? It is good enough? Am I good enough? 

I did my best to ignore the little nagging voices inside, packed up a tote of bags and made my way to my hometown last Friday morning. There's a lovely little clothing shop in town that I adore, and the owner asked me to consign some of my bags there!
Designing bags, choosing fabrics, and sewing is definitely a job I treasure. Often though, I doubt my own artistic intuition and second guess my design style. But, as The Stash owner unpacked my items, she complimented the very bag I was most insecure about! Learning to face my fears and value my talents and artistic instincts is a process, but with each encouraging word, I begin to believe I can do this!

See that mess of bags hanging on the door? Those are my label!

If you live in the area, and haven't been to The Stash, you need to check it out! They have great on-trend items and very reasonable prices too! Follow their FB page so you don't miss their store-wide 50% off sales. I took advantage of their deals recently and those items have become my favorites!

In addition to The Stash carrying my bags, my favorite coffee shop now sells my cloth monkey! The Mocha Monkey just couldn't refuse such an adorable mascot! Don't you think he looks a bit like their monkey lid stickers?

I love my hometown! To see an inside view of both establishments, and why Waconia is becoming a destination town, check out this video appropriately titled, Why we love Waconia:  

(Don't let the cover image scare you off. This is a beautifully done video! The Stash and Mocha Monkey can be seen  at :35 - 1:00)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beyond Imagining: Dangerous Hope {Pt 4}

This is the story of our year where I chronicle our journey through unemployment, a few of our detours along the way,  and the faithfulness of a good God that is beyond imagining. 

If you are just now finding this series, please jump back and read:

The holidays came and we were still waiting.

I remember hearing the song "While I'm Waiting" what seemed like years ago and adopting it as my theme, having no idea how loooong my season of waiting would last. By now, when the song came on the radio,  I was numb to it. Yeah, yeah, wait and worship. Whatever.

I was ready to be done.

We hoped that our loose ends would be tied up in a nice pretty Christmas bow. God gives good gifts, after all, and wouldn't Christmas be the perfect time for such a gift? But it seemed that would not be happening.

Robb had written about hope the previous December:
Hope has a dangerous element, it encourages a desire to strive for the difficult paths and reach for unrealized dreams. That is why it hurts so much when what is hoped for fades or seems out of reach. Don't be afraid to hope my friends, it's worth it.
One year had passed since that comment and we were still trying to hold on to hope, but as the hiring process progressed, the waiting became increasingly difficult. Our growing desire for this job to be our answer correlated to our growing fear that it would not be. We felt the dangerous element of hope. The job seemed too good to be true, out of reach.

We felt keenly the battle for hope and peace in our hearts. I began rallying the troops to pray.

A month had already passed since we had heard of the job opening, and I remember asking the Lord if this was something in which we should be investing so much energy and emotion and hope. I asked Him to give me a word of encouragement and then, hoping God would have something specific to say to me, opened my Bible to the Psalm of the day.

It was December 20th, so I read Psalm 20:

1 May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
   may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
   and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
   and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
   and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
   and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
   May the LORD grant all your requests.
 6 Now this I know:
   The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
   with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
   but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
   but we rise up and stand firm.
9 LORD, give victory to the king!
   Answer us when we call! 
I was stunned to tears.

"May the Lord answer you.....May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed!"

I took these words to heart and they brought me hope me many times over the next days, as we were notified that the pool of applicants was pared down to a few choice candidates.

Robb was still in the running.

We were so relieved, we both cried.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Pinterest: Tried and Approved {3}

Here are my Pinterest finds and reviews from this week!

1.} Jean Flower Accessory

This one is so, SO fun! The stitching around the edges curls the fabric and makes a wonderfully floppy flower! Here's a pattern if you are unsure about freehand cutting the petals:

Double click on the above image and then right click to save image for printing.  
When printed, the 3 inch line should be....3 inches. :)
  • Cut out 5 shapes from old jeans using the above pattern
  • Sew around all edges 
  • Stitch or glue together with smaller size on top, alternating the petal placement
  • Sew or glue beads or layer buttons in center
  • Stitch or glue pin on back
Pretty simple! Here's mine:

Now go accessorize something!

2.}Cream Cheese Danish

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to cream cheese! And boy, does this recipe ooze with cream cheese goodness! So much, in fact, that next time I make it, I will split the filling between two cans of crescent rolls and make two danishes! The filling and topping recipes easily make enough to divide, doubling the pleasure!

To be honest, I was a bit pessimistic when I began, as sometimes a canned roll recipe just tastes too... canned, but I had a package of Aldi's crescent rolls begging to be used. And the final verdict? This one is a winner! The richness of the filling more than masks the canned roll flavor!

3.} Cord Orgaization

Sometimes (OK, ALL the time) I see things like this and wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"

4.}Printable Picture (for personal use)

I was thinking of someone in particular when I noticed this on Pinterest. (Mary Lou, I'm looking at you!) As is sometimes the case though, the link was bad, and after a short bit of sleuthing, I still cannot find the source for this picture. Based on the style and water stains, I am betting it is a scan from something vintage. I think you are safe printing it and using it for personal purposes. I love printables!

What have you found and tried from Pinterest?

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